Read About Featured Gadgeteer – Ruth Bygrave


Name: Ruth Bygrave
Location: Ipswich, UK

My Gadgetary Life…

…is a bizarre combination of thrift and extravagance.

On the one hand, I’ve only just gone this year from a succession of nameless mongrel PC clones to a pedigree box (Dell); on the other hand, I’m the only person I know with 32mb of memory in my wristwatch on the principle that it might be useful and I know where it is.

Most of the gadgets I try out and don’t like enough get ploughed back into e-bay. Most of my PDAs (Zire 71, Tungsten T and iPaq 2210) were perfectly competent devices that I didn’t use enough to justify keeping them. I loved pretty LIT e-books–but I can read ordinary PDB e-books on a less good screen with tons more battery life. I liked having videos in DivX on my handheld, but it took ages to get them right, and I use audio a lot more than video. None of them were actually bad, but nor did I miss them when they’d gone.

Conversely, if I ever mislay my current mp3 player for a few hours I’m tearing my hair out and checking under the cat or any likely cushions. My boyfriend tends to get annoyed at the fact that what my current mp3 player is changes rather frequently, but even he has to admit that it does get very heavily used.

Also, I try to make my gadgets look cute, ordinary or personalised as much as possible, to minimise the likelihood of them getting nicked. My Neo keyboard is festooned with cat stickers, because I like cats, and because anything to discourage the thing looking like an expesnive laptop is OK by me.

Here is a picture of the Neo keyboard festooned with cat stickers, being pawed by my beautiful white ‘laptop’ of the furry kind. I’m not good at self-portraits, and this is a gadgetty picture

If I described all the gadgets I’d tried in a long list, that would probably end up sort of boring. Instead, I’ll put down my off-the-cuff reactions to the memorably good or bad ones, with the caveat that this is personal opinion, and how:


TRIUMPH: Microwriter keyboard. A wonder of ergonomics after which I hated being dragged kicking and screaming towards Qwerty.
TRIUMPH: Neo keyboard. Designed to be thrown about by small children and keep working.
TRIUMPH: iPod mini. Hate the embarrassing fashion-bling angle, love the extras and configurability.
TRIUMPH: MS Comfort Keyboard. Comfortable ergonomic design without being a split keyboard.
TRIUMPH: Macally Syncbox. For when you really need a standalone USB host in your pocket.

TURKEY: Frogpad Bluetooth Keyboard. Astounding combination of hardware innovation and software ineptitude. Also actually almost gave me RSI where Qwerty had failed.
TURKEY: MS Comfort Mouse. Horribly sensitive to RF interference
TURKEY: Microwriter Agenda keyboard. From the sublime to the ridiculous.
TURKEY: Panasonic SV-SD05 SD mp3 player cum headphones. Excellent idea crippled by brain-dead proprietary software, transcoding, and a painfully-slow USB card reader which had to be used instead of the USB 2.0 one I already had.

(Damn, can’t think of a last turkey. The ROKR would probably be it, because I believe what I’ve read about it, but I haven’t experienced its putative turkeytude for myself)

My current obsession is setting up a blog/podcast for audiobook fans, because I couldn’t find an enthusiast’s site for reviews and reactions already there and I had a really good idea for a title.

The site A Book in Both Ears is now up and stumbling. There are only a few pages up so far, and one podcast, (and one amazingly cute feline pin-up picture…), but it’s on its way.

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